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An era has ended with my '93 Camry LE (which has almost 288K miles) - I picked up my new car this past Wednesday. I checked out all the usual suspects (Accord, Altima, Fusion, Camry) but the Malibu always felt like the boldest choice. If someone a year ago would have told me I would have bought a Malibu I would have thought they were joking but the redesign changed everything. Redesign aside I still couldn't believe it could be my top choice even after reading many reviews. However things started chipping away at my initial thoughts. I saw the editors' and consumers' reviews on Edmunds and was shocked how everyone put the Camry dead last (I actually like the exterior styling of the new Camry unlike a lot of folks) and had the Malibu in a tight race with the perennial favorite (the Accord).

I drove all the cars in the space of a day about 2 months ago and felt the Malibu (I was in a LS) had the right mix of sport vs comfort feel (the Altima felt like the most powerful of the bunch). In either what had to be either the best sales job in the world or just a testament to the redesign during my test drive I was stopped at a light and the person in the car next me asked what type of car we were in and then commented on how sharp the car looked (not surprising since I barely see any Malibus here in central NJ unlike the tons of Camrys, Accords, and Altimas). Time passed and with the kids and Q4 activities at my job I just couldn't focus on pulling the trigger - I just hoped my Camry could limp along until I my planned time off in July.

I initially didn't care for the exterior styling on the Accord but it grew on me over time especially when I saw it in red or black pearl but the few times I spotted a Malibu on the road it just stood out. The Accord not having 60/40 rear fold down seats was always a big negative since I frequent Lowes and Home Depot. The Fusion is a competent car and a good value for the moeny but is about as plain as can be (although the MS Sync option is nice). The Altima was a nice car but it just didn't have the boldness that Malibu seems to have in abundance. The Camry ride is was on the soft side but the interior styling was really below the other cars with the exception of the Fusion. Of course the '08 Malibu has it's drawbacks: no bluetooth, while the trunk is large the opening is a bit small, no rear center armrest, no passenger entry handles, and doesn't have a comparable navigation option but since this is my first 21st century car I can live with these things. Overall what you get I feel is the best initial value for the money.

I finally found a free moment a few weeks ago to stop by the dealer to see if I could get the exact '08 I wanted: a red jewel/titanium 2LT with premium audio, rear power package, and premium mats. I knew that would be tough given what I've read but I figured I'd just put in an order if something couldn't be found in the area. Unfortunately I found out that I couldn't order an '08 anymore and would have to wait to put in an order for an '09 which they still didn't have pricing for yet. I didn't like that the side markers and adjustable pedals were going away but liked the standard 4 cyl/6 speed in the 2LT and bluetooth that would be available. At that point I just planned on waiting until my July vacation to put the order in but little did I know the stars were about to align.

Wednesday was the first day of my "staycation" and I decided to get things rolling with my car. I called the dealer but the sales person I was dealing with wasn't in so I decided to call another dealership that was fairly attentive in dealing with me over e-mail (why more dealers don't do this in this day an age is beyond me). I drove over to the dealership and guess what they had - it turns out they had the only car with my main specs within a 300 mile radius (it also had the body color moldings). To my dismay however they added some extras at the dealer (tinted windows, pin stripes, and gold treatments) that I didn't necessarily want or need and certainly wasn't trying to pay what they were asking for (around 1.2K). I said I'd pay 1/3 of what the extras cost for a total of 24K on the spot but they balked at that. I told them to think about it and I left to pick up my kids from day camp.

Another dealer wasn't too far from the camp so stopped by on the way home. They a red jewel 2LT but it had a 6 cyl and was missing the premium audio and rear power package. They did have a white LTZ with a 4 cyl/6 speed that looked pretty sharp (never would have thought I'd like a white car but it was nice) but it was going to be at least 2K more and that is if I was lucky. The dealer was on a mission and to told me to take the car home to show my wife. My wife when I called her had the same negative reaction about white cars I had but the white with chrome accents immediately won her over. I must say though I was not impressed with the 6 speed transmission - while I'm not trying to drag race anytime soon the delay when hitting the gas in a passing situation was weak (I didn't give the tap shifting a try but I'd rather not have to rely on that). I had to pass a truck during my 2LT test drive and felt the 4 speed did a better job responding. At that point in my mind the only thing the '09 had going for it was the bluetooth and the slightly better gas mileage.

A few minutes after I got home the other dealer called me back and I told them I have a new LTZ sitting in my driveway that I don't have to bring back until tomorrow and my wife is already warming up to it. We quickly came to an agreement of 24.3K with 4 oil changes thrown in and that night at 9:45 I came home with my new 2LT with red jewel exterior, ebony interior, premium audio, rear power package, premium mats, tinted windows, pin stripes (which aren't as bad as I originally thought), and gold accents. Now I just have to get used to having a new car and actually caring about dings and scratches for the first time in 15 years ;)
 

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Welcome to the club!! I liked reading the difference between the 4speed and the 6speed. I have gone back and forth with myself wondering if I should have waited for the 6 speed and now I am glad I did not. For the difference I am glad to have the side markers and adjustable pedals. Not a big deal to some but the pedals come in handy for the needs of my family. Going from a "93" Toyota to this car will make you feel spoiled!
 

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Welcome aboard Wabbott! After reading your story let's see a picture.
 

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Aside from being an automatic, that's my only problem with my 08 LS; the fascia wheels. The rims you have are the ones I favorite over all the rest. Looks very good on your, love the red :D
 
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